I don’t drive. It freaks me out. Knowing how oblivious I can be, I imagine that I would die a fiery death the second I pulled out of my driveway. Surprisingly, living la vida no license hasn’t been a problem for me. In high school, my friends loved to drive and had no problem picking me up. Then I moved to San Francisco for two years and have lived in New York for the past four. The only time it really becomes an issue is when I live in LA for brief periods of time. If you added up the summers and the semester I took off of college, I’ve probably lived in this city for a grand total of a year and a half. During that time, I’ve had to navigate the city without a license and let me tell you, it’s been a frustrating adventure.
Nobody walks in LA. Missing Persons was right. The only time you really see people on the street is when they’re exercising or walking their dog. Other than that, it’s just barren. I walk down major streets like Melrose and Sunset Boulevard in the middle of the day and am just surrounded by the sound of whizzing cars. It’s mortifying when you’re at a crosswalk and people are staring at you from their cars like, “WTF? Is that guy homeless? He’s wearing Marc by Marc though.” You feel very exposed when you’re the only person on a street and sometimes I feel like running to a side street and just hiding out. Most of the time though, it’s actually not that bad. When you live in LA without a car, navigating each day is like a challenge that you need to enjoy. You’ll go to dinner with your friend Diana at 7:00 in West Hollywood if she can pick you up. Otherwise, you’ll go to a restaurant you can walk to and meet someone else. At times, you’re entirely reliant upon the generosity of others. You structure your days around when people can give you rides. It’s certainly a far cry from living in New York where I have the freedom to go anywhere anytime. LA forces you to get creative. I have to pack a book, my iPod, my phone charger, and my computer every time I leave my brother’s house in the morning because, since he lives in the Hollywood Hills, I know I won’t have the luxury to go back and forth.
I take the bus a lot. Apparently that’s something you just don’t do in LA but I actually don’t mind it. They’re spacious, air-conditioned, clean, and arrive in a timely manner. Plus, it’s fun to spot the one other babe on the bus, the one other person who’s like “WTF AM I DOING ON THE BUS? SERIOUSLY?” I live for that person. That person gets me through the daze.
There’s an estimated five other people who don’t drive in LA and I know all of them. I don’t know why that is. Do we just attract each other like a bunch of lost souls or what? A good percentage of my friends in LA seriously don’t drive so I sometimes go weeks without seeing them. Yesterday I just so happened to be in Beverly Hills where one of my good friends without a license lives and we walked down Doheny to a coffee shop and stayed there for five hours until someone could pick us up. It was a lot of fun obviously but, jesus. I felt like I was in middle school waiting for my mom to pick me up from the movies. But such is the life of someone without a license in LA. You spend most of your waking moments just waiting.
I just realized how awful this makes LA sound so I feel like I have to note that I don’t actually mind not driving in LA. Sure, it can be annoying, and I certainly am in no rush to move back here, but not having a license allows me to have a lot of downtime. I’m stuck (literally) most of the time I’m in LA so I use it as an opportunity to read or listen to music. Living in New York, you don’t have time for anything, but when I’m in LA, I have nothing BUT time. It’s refreshing. That being said, counting down the days till I’m back in New York…